Size Matters

DALLAS -- Sometimes it's all about finding mismatches and exploiting them. While both teams are relatively even athletically, Texas' 28-21 loss to Oklahoma was all about mismatches and the Sooners taking advantage of them.

Football can be a complicated game, pitting two teams in a delicate, strategic battle, with coaches weaving intricate game plans to best put their respective teams in position for victory.

But sometimes it's just about being bigger than the guy across from you.

In too many instances on Saturday afternoon at Cotton Bowl, the Sooner was bigger than the Longhorn. Quite often the opposite was true, but Oklahoma had more athletic mismatches and took advantage of it.

This is not to say that they have significantly better athletes on the whole. Both teams have consistently been power players in recruiting and both field an impressive squad, athletically. But there were too many specific players that Texas could not handle, physically.

Chief among them is wide receiver Malcolm Kelly. The 6-4, 217-pound OU wideout caught five balls for 105 yards and a touchdown that proved to be the game winner. Ryan Palmer and Brandon Foster can try and summon all the moxie and go-get-'em in the world, but it won't change the fact that Kelly is about a head taller than the both of them. On running plays to the outside, wide receiver screens and the like, Kelly mauled whatever DB was placed in front of him, springing the runner. Kelly, a big-bodied, big-time, go-to receiver, is for Sam Bradford this season was Limas Sweed was for Colt McCoy last year.

Sweed himself is an example of an athletic mismatch that Texas couldn't manage. Sweed is listed as healthy, but he's one of the top receivers in the country and slated to be a very high pick in next year's NFL Draft and if he's 100%, he doesn't sit on the bench for as long as he did. With a wrist injury before the season and an ankle tweak against UCF haven't helped the senior receiver's effectiveness.

Both of Oklahoma's top tight ends, Jermaine Gresham and Joe Jon Finley are 6-foot-6. Gresham is Bradford's most common target of the two and, although he only had two catches in the game, both of them were right over the middle for touchdowns.

Tight end was also where the Longhorns made use of an athletic mismatch of their own. Jermichael Finley was nearly unstoppable every time he got the ball in his hands. The Texas tight end, who has one of the best size to speed ratios in all of college football, flew all over the field and yanked the ball from over defenders' heads as if he was playing Keep Away with a group of children. Finley finished with 149 yards on four catches, including a 22-yard TD reception.

Frank Okam also gave much-needed boost by wrecking the middle of the Oklahoma offense all day. He did to the Oklahoma offensive line what Tommy Harris did to the Texas offensive line when he was wearing Crimson and Cream. In fact, all three of the Longhorn's officially recorded quarterback hurries were by Okam.

But as strong as Texas' defensive line played, the offensive line could not muster the same level of performance. OU's entire D-line against Texas' entire O-line could be considered a mismatch, especially when you look at the box score. The Longhorns only managed 61 yards on the ground and gave up four sacks to the Sooner defense.

Texas is not a dramatically inferior team athletically, but on Saturday there were too many individual match-ups that the Horns could not handle.

Horns Digest Top Stories